Friday, March 14, 2008

Sand dunes, the sun, and smiles..oh my..

(Mui Ne, Vietnam)

I am in heaven again..truly this place is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen or been to in my life. The magnificence of the coastline here literally took my breath away today as I rode about 60 kilometers out to the Giant White Sand dunes known to locals as only Bau Tran, the driest geological “spot” in all of Asia.

my trust "motorbike" that took me along a most beautiful and incredibly windy 120 km ride today ! woohooo !!

My childhood memories of white sand dunes takes me quickly to the sandy shores of Itapoa in Bahia, Brazil. Many a family picnic was had there and it still feels like yesterday that I was lying under a pinetree taking in an afternoon nap (or at least making a weak attempt at one) after a big meal of feijoada (rice and beans) absorbing all I could of the amazing powdery white scenery around me.

a local bride and groom braved the hot desert winds for their wedding photo shoot. Supposedly, these dunes are one of the most photgraphed spots in all of Vietnam and many a fashion and wedding photographer has been here.

So when I arrived today at the dunes, I just felt like a big kid again, only this time there was no nap to be had- just a lot of climbing in the hot desert sun…

I seriously could not stop smiling the entire time I was running up and down these amazing huge mountains of the most powdery white sand I have ever seen. I was determined to also have a go at “sand sledding” since I had read in the guide books that “this was THE thing to do” here….so after driving a hard bargain with a very feisty 10-year-old ‘sled’ salesman (talked him down to a dollar), I had my plastic blue sled in hand and began the long walk up the dunes…Lawrence of Arabia, eat your heart out !…

I cannot really imagine what it must be like for desert dwellers to live in such harsh conditions all their lives..the sun is blinding, the wind never stops howling, and even after only a short time, my sight became a bit blurry as I tried to decipher edges, cliffs, and slopes around me…everything just seemed to blend into one big graceful and most beautiful mountain of…SAND…it was a novelty for me, of course, but I have gained a heightened appreciation for all our fellow human beings who sustain this existence day in and day out for years at a time in the many desert regions around the world.

My sand-sledding experience was short and sweet…one would think that so much momentum would be built on such altitudes but alas, the sand is so incredibly soft here that I think the weight of a ten year old child is probably the maximum weight where one actually can gain some momentum and speed ! Nevertheless, I had a great big laugh as I slowly but surely plodded down my sandy slope…but now am thinking in hindsight, that I should have gone down head first … next time..there is always a next time…

me and my trusty blue sled..I was a kid again !!

a picture of me at the bottom of the dune I just sledded down- just to give you an idea how big these dunes weree !

Mui Ne is also the capital of wind-surfing and kite-surfing in all of Asia so every morning and afternoon I am welcomed on the beach by a cornucopia of bright colored sails and well-toned surfers in their state-of-the-art equipment scattered both in the sand and sea. It is amazing to me still to watch what man is capable of doing in and above the water; what one must feel when he/she is defying gravity is a feeling I can only imagine right now by watching these most agile and talented athletes. It is also nice to see all this water activity going on around me again as it does remind me a great deal of being back in Hawaii..a nice feeling to have as I near the end of my r month trip (4 ½ weeks to go…)…

this is the view right outside of where I am staying..a most beautiful spectacle indeed !

me and my new found friend Didier, who travels the world teaching kite-surfing- something he loves to do with great passion!

My plans right now are to stay here for a few more days, get my classes taught and get caught up on some school work…I also want to visit a nearby orphanage and will probably help out there for at least a couple of days playing with the children and bringing what supplies are needed such as notebooks and toys….I am realizing more and more on this trip how much joy being around children brings me and can see me integrating time with children much more in my future travels… their smiles and laughter have been given to me so freely these past few weeks…this has been by far the greatest gift I have received while being on this journey…

a local cemetary I passed on my ride..the symbols on the graves ar enot swastikas but are of Hindu origins..

hope you enjoy the pics of this most magical and marvelous place on Vietnam…it has opened up my eyes to so much more natural beauty that I just did not know existed here in this part of the world. I sincerely hope you can make it out here one day as well. Just look for me in the sand dunes..I’ll be the one perfecting her sand-sledding going head down first ..:)

me and a couple of new found freinds, one from London, the other from Scotland..we "shared" a 6 hour bus ride form Saigon to hear and were instant freinds !

sorry, but I had to include this pic that I saw during my ride today ! I guess times are tough for poor Britney Spears ! She is now here in Vietnam making 5 bucks an hour doing massage..
(funniest darn sign I have seen in a long time !! and if you look closely, the girl above her is blowing a Mac apple ! hmmm..can we say copyright infringement anyone ?!!)

hope you are well….

melina ☺

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